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In the world of luxury travel, few providers hold a candle to Abercrombie & Kent. A&K travel conjures up images of elegant, five-star accommodations, customized itineraries with expert guides, the finest of Michelin-rated dining, and cushy modes of transportation. And, of course, the hefty price tag that comes with all of those extravagances.
Looking for all that glitz on a budget? Consider A&K Connections, a new line of luxurious journeys for small groups of 24-28 guests that offers 17 itineraries from six continents. Some of the available destinations include Australia, France, India, Morocco, and Peru. I recently joined A&K on a preview of their “Spain: Seven Cities tour” to see firsthand what Connections is all about.
The cities that make up the title include Barcelona, Granada, Marbella, Gibraltar, Seville, Cordoba, and Madrid. Tally up the day-trips to Malaga, Ronda, and Jerez, however, and you’re looking at a whopping ten cities packed into a ten-day tour. The preview trip was condensed into seven-days. Needless to say, at times, this felt like a break-neck pace, even with Gibraltar sliced off the itinerary. I’d imagine the ten-day version to be just slightly less speedy.
Despite the pace, it’s hard to say which part of the trip I would eliminate to slow things down. In retrospect, it’s easy to see why Simon Butler-Madden, an A&K vet who built many of the Connections itineraries, included all the sights we saw; the trip provides a cohesive overview of Spain’s diverse history, and how that history affected all aspects of modern Spanish and Catalonian culture. Read more
For decades, Abercrombie & Kent has been known as one of the travel industry’s premiere luxury tour operators. The company’s safaris, Antarctic cruises, and adventure tours combine nature, culture, and the pinnacle of comfort. While this made for amazing travel opportunities, it also priced a great many people out of their offerings. Now, however, comes exciting news that A&K will be launching a more affordable line of tours called Connections. Priced 30 percent lower than the standard A&K trips, Connections trips still focus on exotic destinations and luxury. The company has an ambitious plan in place to maintain its brand while making their trips accessible to a greater percentage of travelers. Read more
This whiskered mug (shown at right) was my last hurrah on Kauai before it was time to board a plane bound for covert Nextpedition destination #2.
Considering that I’m obsessed with any adorable wild creature – let alone one that waddles from the surf onto the beach before my very feet – this, I decided, was going to be a tough surprise act to follow.
When the plane’s wheels rolled down the runway in Honolulu, I have to admit that I still wasn’t entirely convinced that the second leg of my mystery trip could possibly live up to the past four days.
Just a few days into 2012, tour operators and travel companies in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras – the four countries also known as the Mundo Maya – have ramped up their promotions for the coming year, which marks the end of the Maya Long Count calendar on December 21.
More on the significance of the date below (hint: It has very little to do with the movie 2012), but it also means the coming months will see a surge in Maya-themed packages, trips, and offerings, with varying degrees of value and quality. One that recently hit my inbox appears to exceed the mark in terms of authenticity and adventure, while being supremely affordable: the Maya 2012 Passport, launched by the Belize Tourism Board. Read more
In Rome, a city not historically known for its gay friendliness (thanks, Vatican!), walls are nonetheless breaking down. This past June, EuroPride marched from Piazza dei Cinquecento through the center of the city to the Circus Maximus, with about a million participants overall. And now, the highly rated, English-language tour company Rome Walks is offering a queer eye into the Eternal City with their new gay-themed tour “Antinous’ Rome: For the Love of Hadrian.”
Classical history refresher: Back in those halcyon pre-gay days, Hadrian, arguably Rome’s most beloved emperor, was openly involved with a Greek boy named Antinous. While traveling through Egypt, Antinous drowned in the Nile River. Hadrian wept, and like all great men of worth and power (cough, Taj Mahal, cough), in his sorrow went on to deify his lover. Coins were minted with his image. Cities were named after him. And in his capital city, some of the grandest remaining monuments – Pantheon, Castel Sant’Angelo – and fantastic pieces of art were commissioned to the memory of his lover with “the perfect male form.” The End? Not quite. Read more
The capital of Nova Scotia is gearing up to commemorate the Titanic tragedy’s centennial anniversary in 2012 with a series of concerts, museum exhibitions, tours, and more. Halifax, set on Canada’s Atlantic coast, has profound ties to the legendary ship’s ill-fated maiden voyage on April 15, 1912 – it ended up serving as the final destination and resting place for some 150 of the bodies recovered at sea. More than 1,500 passengers and crew perished in the tragic wreck when the “unsinkable” ship plowed into an iceberg at high speeds. Read more
The Ultimate Nextpedition: How One Writer Signed Up For a Mystery Trip . . . and Found Herself Dangling From a Pacific Island Zipline
Tucked inside the parcel was my Nextpedition trip console – and an envelope that would reveal my first Farbarian-meets-Adrenalista-match-made-in-travel-heaven destination: Kauai!
Three days later, my husband and I were bound for the not-so-Farbarian town of Newark, N.J., to catch an 11-hour flight to Honolulu, where we’d hop a 30-minute flight to Lihue, Kauai.
If seeing Africa’s Big Five has been on your bucket list (as it should be), start the new year off on an adventurous foot with Extraordinary Journeys Africa, a mother-daughter team whose custom-crafted safaris earned them a nod earlier this year in Smart Luxury Travel magazine’s Luxe List. Now, the forward-thinking, socially-responsible pair is offering an exciting 7-night journey to South Africa (kicking off on February 27, 2012), with three nights spent amongst the wildebeests at the Madikwe Game Reserve in Sabi Sands followed up by four nights during Cape Town’s Gay Pride event, where you can be sure there will be plenty of wild life all its own. Best of all, all accommodations are gay-owned and run, ensuring a Pride vacation to be proud of. Prices start at $4,200 per person (based on double occupancy), which represent roughly a 15 percent savings off their typical itineraries covering the same territory.
The basic itinerary is as follows, but with over 500 trips under their belt and no two of them the same, modifications are possible (Want to tack on additional camps? Travel by 4×4, hot air balloons, elephant, or horse?): Read more
When I was a kid, I loved surprises. I guess you could say this is true of most children. But while my best friends would call me in the early morning hours on Christmas day to hear what I’d gotten from Santa (no doubt so they could compare it with their own loot), what really got me excited had little to do with presents.
No, the surprise that could put me in an instant state of euphoric anticipation always started with a simple question posed by my dad: Want to go on a trip?
Twenty-some-odd years later, just the idea of exploring a new patch of our planet still does it to me every time.
For me, travel is the ultimate surprise in life because no matter how much you plan and strategize and agonize over the details, you can pretty much expect the unexpected. And I love every second of it.
I wouldn’t trade those magical, spur-of-the-moment travel experiences for anything, which is how I recently found myself taking the ultimate travel risk: I agreed to a seven-day vacation – without actually knowing where I was going.
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